Cedric Centre for Counselling Inc.

Blog

Archive for May, 2008

Some Thoughts on Relationship

The other day I received an email from a dear friend who has been actively doing his own personal growth work.  He was sharing about some insights he has been having about how his ego creates distress and distance in his relationships with others.  He then reminded me of something I “learned” a while back and that life keeps giving me the chance to learn again. Namely this: When the ego is running the show things don’t go so well – we feel anxious and desperate and feel the need to control others to gain their approval and the elusive security we believe that their approval will bring.  When we can step outside the ego, to our higher self and let go of wanting control of the situation or of the other person we immediately feel released, relaxed, peaceful and can truly relate to the other person from a place of love and acceptance and not desperation and neediness.

This prompted me to think about my relationships and some of the big life lessons they have given me.

  1. As Clarissa Pinkola Estes writes in “Women Who Run With The Wolves” there is a natural cycle in relationships of life/death/life and in order for a relationship to deepen and grow and become mature love we need to be willing to stay present for each other during the “death” phase and trust that new life will come to the connection in time.  In our society we seem to have (myself included) forgotten about the second “life” phase. We get fixated on the initial life phase of relationships (often termed “romantic love” or the honeymoon phase) and we believe that there is something we can to do stay there – to keep our relationship in that perfect, everything is wonderful phase of love.  We can’t. There is a natural flow in relationship where once we have enough security and time with someone our “shadow” side begins to surface. Those thoughts, feelings and behaviours that we held aside in an effort to reveal only our best selves start to emerge. Likewise, the deepening of intimacy in the relationship begins to push our security button and we begin to feel very fearful and threatened, both of the loss of the relationship and of the loss of our individuality.  This is the “death” phase of the connection. Where the relationship begins to reveal its full self – the good, the bad and the ugly.  This is the stage where most people bail. Thoughts of “you’re not who I thought you were” or “I didn’t sign up for this” abound and we begin to blame the other person for where the relationship is not working.  “They are changing” we think and we feel duped and angry.  Really, we are feeling scared because it’s time to jump off the cliff into mature adult love and a commitment to truly loving the other person come what may.  Many of us don’t realize that this “death” phase of the relationship is just the middle phase and not the end.  And because we don’t realize that we believe that the relationship has died and cannot be resurrected and so we leave to start again with someone who, we tell ourselves, will be more real or more healthy, or more right for us; someone who won’t kill the romance with their “stuff.”  It doesn’t work like that – hence we find ourselves in 6 months or a year or even the next week, back in a new relationship which will ultimately find its way to the death stage of the cycle. The solution to the relationship revolving door is to realize that the death stage precedes the life stage – new life is coming. Hang in there!  As we see ourselves holding on and staying present in the relationship through the revelation of each other’s shadow sides and through our own vulnerability we are blessed with a blossoming of intimacy, connection, commitment and love unlike anything we have ever known in romantic/honeymoon love. The romance is there, the love is there, but there is something else that’s there now and that is a deep sense of trust in the presence and continued love of your partner.  You’re there for each other and you know it.  This is true love. This is deep love. This is the connection we all truly desire but which so few of us ever attain because we turn back too soon. We turn away when things get tough and the shadow appears instead of holding fast and keeping our hearts open to our love.

Certainly there are circumstances where you should consider turning back – if your partner is abusive (verbally, emotionally or physically) or violates your core values (ie. has affairs or lies to you).  If your partner isn’t willing to take responsibility for their role in the relationship and do their work to be the best they can be and to grow beyond any harmful behaviour it is best to leave the relationship and establish a relationship with someone who will share the load with you and who is committed to emotional health and wellness first and foremost.

 

And, I do believe that in any other circumstance, leaving the scene before the relationship has had a chance at rebirth – or the second life phase of the life/death/life cycle is only perpetuating your stay in relationship purgatory. We all want depth and security and commitment and true love and that only comes with the second phase of life. We must pass through the death of the initial connection to find the real jewel within.

The right relationship or the right partner?

A few other things stood out for me as I reviewed my relationship past – recent or otherwise – that I’d like to share with you.

 

  1. I am more interested in having my partner in my life than I am interested in being “right”.
  2. If I’m not careful I can easily lose my balance and put all my eggs in my relationship basket.  This means I can find myself losing my connection with friends or not following through on my self-care (exercise, yoga, meditation, journaling, hobbies etc.) which creates a greater dependence/urgency around the relationship than is necessary or healthy.
  3. I have had a hard time letting people, particularly my significant other see my mistakes/imperfections.  This stems from an old story that we all carry that I have to be perfect/good enough in order to be loved.  Not only did this need for perfection lead to some inauthenticity (which means it made it hard for me to be truly intimate with others) but it also left my partner feeling like he had to be perfect to keep up.  This is so ironic really because I so admired his ability to be real and vulnerable and imperfect and strove to be able to do that myself.  It also led my partner to initially put me on a pedestal which I promptly fell from and that stung a lot for both of us.
  4. I discovered that I had a piece of work to do on expressing genuine love and affection when I’m angry or hurt – I would go into my ego and get into some all or nothing thinking where I couldn’t give my partner a real warm hug for example when I was feeling hurt or angry.  It would take me a while to warm up to him after there had been some discord between. I don’t think that has to be the case, nor do I think it’s a very strong demonstration of the depth of my love for this person.  I want to be a person who has a heart that is more open than that – I’d like to be a person who doesn’t  play games, however unconsciously with my love and trust myself to not withhold my love from my partner when we’re having a problem.
  5. Further to that point – I realized that I had a hard time identifying the feeling or experience of true, deep, mature love – I seemed only to be able to identify sensations of happiness or approval and sensations of hurt/sadness/anger or disapproval – so if I wasn’t feeling the happy/approval thoughts I would assume that perhaps I’m not loving this person anymore and so I would feel inauthentic hugging him or expressing my love as openly and freely as I would have a moment before the disagreement.  As I became aware of this pattern I also became aware that I was doing what Pinkola-Estes spoke of: Namely, I was seeing the death stage of my relationship and judging it as bad or wrong and then withdrawing and protecting myself from the “inevitable” end of the relationship. I didn’t know about the next life phase because it had never been modeled to me and I hadn’t experienced it myself.  I really didn’t have a clue what deep, true, committed love was so there was naturally a difficulty in me feeling open and connected and loving through tough times.  As I recognized this I knew that I wanted to have a sensation or thought of solid, mature, deep, love that was present for my lover regardless of what poopy event was taking place in him, in me or between us. This meant I had to stay tuned! I had to hang in there as openly as I could for the next phase of rebirth and life. Then the true love would be present. Then I would actually have something deeper than my romantic, on and off again love to carry me through the rough patches. It’s no wonder I didn’t have the ability to feel warm and loving towards my partner during those early times of distress.  For me there really wasn’t anything deeper to hold on to. Not because I lacked the ability to love more deeply but because I had never experienced it and hadn’t yet accessed that part of myself.
  6. I also began to recognize in myself (big ego here) that I would say or do things specifically to try and impress my love. Funnily enough it was often these things that he later brought back to me as things that he felt hurt or disappointed by or felt demonstrated a lack of integrity in my or respect for him etc.  I would do things like point out my ex-boyfriends car (fancy black thing) when we drove by his building (only did that once by the way! but I did it not for any other reason than I thought it would impress my sweetheart and make him find me more of a good catch) – yes, I admit it! I behaved like a 10 year old more often than I’d like to admit.  I’m half cringing/half laughing as I admit this but it does need to be said and most importantly, worked through and left behind. It seemed that every time I did or said something that was meant (from a very gamey/insecure place I’ll admit) to make my sweetheart love or want me more it would actually disgust or offend him. In hindsight I can absolutely understand why those things didn’t go over well, if not only because of the insecurity and lack of groundedness I was revealing to him in needing to prove my worth – let alone the silly things I was saying and doing to try and impress him.  The most interesting thing for me about that pattern was that a moment before I would say or do one of those silly things I would hear my higher self saying “um, michelle, you probably don’t want to say this” and I’d have a strange feeling in my tummy but I’d say it anyway and lo and behold we’d have a disagreement or at the very least my sweetheart would have reason to step back and wonder about the health of our connection. This of course being the exact opposite effect from what my 10 year old self was trying to achieve which was this: I wanted to be so incredibly desireable; so incredibly perfect and wonderful and fabulous and irreplaceable that he could not possibly ever consider leaving me. You see, on some unconscious level, I believed that if he would never leave then I would finally have the safety and security that I so craved since I was a little girl and my father abused and then abandoned me. That little girl was still believing on some level that it was something about her that wasn’t good enough and that she just needed to be prettier, thinner, smarter, funnier, wealthier etc. etc. and then no one would ever leave her. Well, surprise, surprise, people did leave her – leave me. And they were right to. I was confused. I was inauthentic. I was manipulative. I was desperate and needy and I placed the responsibility for my happiness on them rather than owning it myself.

For me this pattern could begin to change only when I realized that I was “good enough” already. I am perfect just as I am. I wasn’t responsible for what happened way back when; for how my father did or didn’t love me. That was his stuff, I couldn’t have done anything any differently and I couldn’t have influenced his behaviour and “make” him stay or not be harmful.  It wasn’t about me, therefore, I didn’t need to keep carrying the story that I wasn’t good enough. Therefore, I could drop the games. I could centre and ground myself in me and see myself as a person of worth a deservedness and love and beauty regardless of who was or wasn’t in my life. Only at that point did I become a healthy and safe person to have a relationship with, before then ……not so good!

 

All this is to say that through the experience of coming face to face, time and again with the death cycle of relationship these pieces of growth work (my unfinished business),  were revealed to me.  As I opened myself to their message and stepped up to do my work my relationships got healthier and finally had the chance to deepen into something worthwhile and lasting. I couldn’t have had a healthy, loving and lasting relationship prior to this moment because I didn’t know what was alive in me that was preventing my connections from being deep, intimate and healthy. Now that I knew I could do my work. In having these realizations, some only very recently, my authentic self could finally settle down and relax.  It could let go and trust me to handle relationships in a mature and respectful way (for me and my partner) and not in the old co-dependent way.  That in itself my friends, is well worth the price of admission!

Have a great day out there and should the death cycle rear its head in your romantic partnership – don’t run the other way – embrace it, love it, revel in it, thank it, for it is the doorway to something beautiful.

Love M.

 

 

 

 

Posted in: Uncategorized

Leave a Comment (0) →

Tips for Natural Eating V: Resolving the Guilt Factor

Hello out there! I hope you’re having a lovely week so far! In beautiful Victoria, BC the sun is shining, it’s warm and the blossoms are out on the trees. I love it! This week I want share with you a little tool I discovered to deal with the guilt I felt about eating….well….pretty much anything. But first, I must digress. Have you ever had the experience of having a friend or significant other who says one thing and does another? You know, they tell you they’re going to call you at 8 but you don’t hear from them until 9 or maybe even until the next day? Or they say they’re going to do the dishes for you but then they don’t? Or even, unrelated to you, they say they’re going to call someone else, or start an exercise plan or have that confrontation with that person at work and they don’t? Have you ever had someone in your life like that? Well if you have then you know that each time that person commits to doing something and then doesn’t follow through, your relationship with that person weakens because, regardless of whether it’s dishes or a phone call or an exercise plan that person is showing you, with each breach of commitment, that they can not be trusted.We are inclined to ask ourselves to overlook such “small” things and not to be “too sensitive” or “needy” or “demanding” etc. We work hard to talk ourselves out of the feeling of disease in our tummys when a commitment gets broken by someone close to us. And in so doing we force ourselves to detach from our own authentic self and his or her appropriate feelings. We align more with the untrustworthy person than we do with ourselves.

 

What message do you think this sends us about our perception of our worth and about our perception of the validity or “okay-ness” of our feelings? Well, it simply reinforces that old old story about you not being good enough or deserving enough of honesty and integrity in your relationships on all levels. It sets you up to expect relationships to lack follow through and to force yourself to accept less than you deserve and need in the way of trustworthiness.

As I’m writing I realize that I could spend weeks on this issue of integrity and the impact of broken commitments and why we settle for them. And I will – but not today. Today, I only mentioned it because I wanted to bring you to conscious awareness of the feeling you get when someone breaks a commitment, regardless of how small, and how those large and small breaches of trust undermine the whole relationship unless they are acknowledged by that person and rectified responsibly and respectfully. Why did I want you to be aware of this, you ask? Well, because, each time you tell yourself that you are going to eat a certain thing or not eat a certain thing, or that you are going to eat only a certain amount or only at a certain time etc. etc. etc. and you don’t follow through on that commitment, you are breaching your own trust in yourself, undermining your own self-esteem and sense of safety within you and setting yourself up for a real tongue lashing from the Drill Sgt. His modus operandi? Wait until you’ve done the deed and then belittle and berate you for hours maybe even days until he believes you’ve worked those extra calories off. Kind of like you might do to someone who breaks a commitment to you or what someone might do to you if they feel you have broken their trust in you. I’m not saying that it’s okay to berate someone for not following through – nor is it okay for anyone to berate you for the same – there are many effective and relationship enhancing ways to speak to voilations of trust and to set about the process of restoring the faith. But, since many of us haven’t been shown these life enhancing ways of communicating, we are left with the old standards of anger, guilt and withdrawal. Either we rage at the other openly or passively; or we guilt trip; or we withdraw ourselves emotionally to make the point that we are wounded and feel unsafe. Again, neither is truly effective in resolving the underlying issue of trust with someone else or with ourselves.To bring the focus back to food – if you’re going to commit to something around what you’re eating, when, how much and where, make sure it’s a commitment that you can keep. Make sure that it’s not coming from the diet mentality and that it’s not all or nothing nor should it be about losing weight. If your intention around changing your food habits is primarily geared towards losing weight you’ve missed the point. The focus needs to be not on what you weigh but how you came to weigh what you do and what life enhancing, balanced and self-respecting measures you are going to incorporate into your day to day existence to attend to the underlying cause of your current weight and body image concerns. With that foucs the weight takes care of itself. With the diet mentality focus your body can’t find it’s own natural rhythm because you’re not trusting it to know what it needs and you’re not listening to cues about hunger and fullness. If you were you wouldn’t need a “diet” you would only need to listen and respond to sensations of hunger and fullness. A.K.A. Natural Eating.

Tips for Natural Eating – Guilt Factor

So, back to the guilt factor. If you’re feeling guilty about what you’ve eaten or what you’re going to eat it’s only because you perceive yourself as breaking a commitment to yourself and you’ve just diminished your trust in your self. The solution is simple, and it’s exactly the same solution you would ideally bring to bear if someone in your life were demonstrating a lack of respect and trustworthiness:

 

First and foremost, you only make commitments that you’re certain you can keep. In other words if you’ve been promising yourself every Monday for a year that “this week will be different” and it hasn’t been so, you may want to make a commitment this Monday to find out what’s preventing you from following through, rather than committing yet again to a pattern of behaviour that you’ve proven is too challenging right now.

 

Second, you prioritize your life in such a way that you are creating the greatest likelihood and ease of following through. ie. If you want to take a healthy lunch to work you need to decide whether you’re going to lounge in bed those extra 10 minutes or get up and prepare something for you to take for lunch.

 

Third, if you see yourself not following through one day, stop and ask yourself what experience or thought has led you to set aside your commitment.

 

Fourth, remind yourself of the cost of these broken commitments to yourself: they keep you stuck in low self-esteem and mistrusting yourself in all areas, not just in the one area that you’ve compromised yourself.

 

Fifth, once you know what undermined your commitment ask yourself: “Is it appropriate for me to expect this of myself at this time given that I am having a hard time following through? Might I need to relax my expectations a bit so that I can begin to see some consistent follow through and build trust in myself?”

 

Sixth, make a new commitment that is truly realistic. ie. rather than “every day for the next month I will…” how about “two times this week I will…” Then at the end of that week when you see that you followed through you will also be able to determine how much time that commitment took and if you really do have time to do it a third day the next week or perhaps need to just keep it at twice for now.

You’ll feel much better making commitments you can keep rather than commitments you’d like to keep but can’t right now.Take the time over the next while to discover what is truly reasonable and realistic to expect of yourself rather than what is ideal but not likely to succeed right now.Allow yourself to take a long term approach to resolving this issue, whatever it may be, and reassure yourself that as long as you see consistent movement forward you are far far better off than the all or nothing approach and the Drill Sgt. guilt and criticism that the diet mentality brings.Tune in next time for a little chat on integrity in relationships and how to respectfully and successfully address your own lapses as well as those of the key people in your life.Have a lovely week! M

 

 

 

Posted in: Uncategorized

Leave a Comment (2) →